With the ease and accessibility of self-publishing these days, the choices for indie books seem endless, and the recent indie-to-best-seller breakouts are proof enough that there is true talent in the teeming pool of indie authors. No longer is the digital realm to be considered a last ditch publishing effort; it’s now often a deliberate and very successful choice.
But how do you know which books are worth your time, without the benefit of professional cover designers to catch your eye on the digital shelf, copyeditors to fix those stray typos, or marketing campaigns to create buzz? Word of mouth.
And that’s where we come in.
Kim’s Indie Recs
I regret to say I haven’t read too many indie titles but I do have a couple gems to report!
And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst is exactly the sort of alien invasion story I’m after. A huge survivalist element, aliens that terrify me, humans amped up with powers, and a central mystery that unfolds layer by layer. I loved the ensemble cast full of unique and interesting characters. I loved that Madeleine was stand-offish and found it hard to connect with other people. I find it so rare that female characters are “allowed” to be like that so I am especially pleased when it happens. I loved the subtle build up to what came to be an incredibly poignant and unexpectedly bittersweet romance. It’s simply one of the best post-apocalyptic/alien invasion stories I’ve ever read. And this book was so diverse! There were plenty of non-white characters and queer characters. Awesome.
Intisar Khanani’s Thorn was the most pleasant surprise I came across in my indie readathon! A fantasy retelling of the classic fairy tale The Goose Girl full of heart, intrigue, and some seriously marvelous writing. I was wholly absorbed from the first page. Khanani effortlessly builds up her world and characters with a deft hand. There is much depth, character growth, magic, mystery, a surprising philosophical bent, anda seriously swoon worthy slow burn romance. It’s also chock full of non-white characters. Hooray! A stunning tale of self discovery. Wholeheartedly recommended.
Wendy’s Indie Recs
We know the ones that are the big self-pubbed-to-traditional-pub success stories, like Angelfall or Easy or The Sea of Tranquility or Unteachable, but here are some others I think are worth checking out and are still truly indie. Hats off to authors who are forging their own paths!
YA Science Fiction
I have to confess I read this book last year and LOVED it (and not just because the book was partially inspired by a conversation I had with someone else), and the ending touched me so much that I still haven’t found the right words for a review. This post-apocalyptic scifi tale surprised me with thoughtful science, unexpected twists, and a subtle yet great depth of feeling. When I met up with the author a couple of years ago in Australia, she told me she has no interest in pursuing traditional publishing, but of all the indie authors I’ve read, I think her brilliant stories are the most original and well thought out.
One & Only by Viv Daniels
This smart, sexy romance is like a really great episode of Felicity–and it happens to be written and self-published by Diana Peterfreund under a pseudonym! I’m really excited about the sequel, which comes out sometime this year.
Pretty When She Dies by Rhiannon Frater
This is kind of a weird pick because it’s a really good example of a self-published book. It’s a bit meandering and unpolished, and the story and characters could use some beefing up; but wow, is the gory horror and sexual chemistry intense!
Double Clutch by Liz Reinhardt
This was the first NA book I ever enjoyed. It’s sweet and explores teen sexuality in an honest way, and one of the love interests (yes, I’m afraid there is a love triangle) has a very Tucker-like quality.
Demons of Oblivion series by Skyla Dawn Cameron
Zara Lain is a vampire assassin who also happens to be a bitch–and she makes no apologies for it. This is not your typical “I’m a badass but I also have a soft side” pretense, she really IS a stone cold bitch, and I love her for it! That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have feelings, of course, and it’s been crazy watching her story develop–like that thing where Rose tries to do that thing to Dimitri on the bridge type of crazy. I’m not sure when the next book will be out, since everything is dependent on sales, but I need to know Zara will be okay. Pleeeeease get on it, Ms. Cameron! And urban fantasy/PNR fans, if you enjoy butt-kicking heroines similar to Kate Daniels or Merit, I just know you’re going to love Zara Lain.
We hope you’ll add some of these lesser-known indie treasures to your TBR, if they aren’t already on your radar. What indie books do you recommend?